Serious mountaineering and winter camping often calls for serious footwear like hard-plastic, crampon-friendly boots. But when you finally reach the end of the day, the feeling of freedom from those boots beats out even shedding a World Cup-tight ski boot. But unlike hanging by the fire in a warm lodge, après in the backcountry means colder temps as the evening fades into night. That’s where the Radler Trail Camp Boots excel. They zip together at the soles when not in use, which means they take a fraction of pack space that would otherwise be swallowed by another pair of kicks. When you’re ready, unzip ‘em and nestle your feet in more than 14 ounces of water-resistant, breathable Thermolite insulation. The outsoles are made of twin rubbers that give you the perfect degree of protection and traction, and the next day you can zip ‘em closed and stash them in your pack, where they’ll be waiting.
Bonus: we’re seeing clearance sales of up to 50 percent off these shoes!
We already wear our affection for Blunstones on our sleeve (and, naturally, on our feet), but the love affair is going to a whole new level in fall 2013, when the venerable Tasmania-based shoe company introduces color into both the 550 and 500 ranges—in just the right measure of fun and style (at the sole, the elastic fabric, and some of the stitching. The 550 range (pictured) will boast a deep red and a teal green, while the 500 will be in army green and gray/blue (an early, exclusive sale of colored 500s at J Crew was an instant hit).
Chaco puts a modern twist on a classic style with their new Tedinho Waterproof Hiking boot, and they do it well. The Tedinho is a magnificent combination of performance, comfort, and style. The first thing I noticed? The hard footbed. But as I began to walk around, I realized that it wasn’t the footbed. It was the ultra-supportive “LuvSeat” Platform around which this boot is built. This support really shined on long hikes and steep scrambles. I found myself going for miles and miles without ever paying any attention to my feet. The entire outer of the Tedinho is made of leather, which adds loads of durability and ensures that these boots look as good after months of hiking. The leather is lined with a waterproof membrane that helps keep your feet dry and warm, and also enables the shoes to dry much quicker than most hikers, as moisture doesn’t permeate deep into the fabric. For traction, Chaco departs from the traditional Vibram sole in favor of a proprietary EcoTread sole that enlists 25% recycled materials while at the same time provides great traction on all surfaces.
When the cognoscenti of the gear universe descends on Salt Lake City this January for the Winter Outdoor Retailer show, it’s a fair bet that about half of the male attendees will be wearing a pair of Blundstones. The reason has less to do with peer pressure and more to do with hard-earned loyalty. Born in the rugged environs of the Australian island of Tasmania way back in 1870, the Blundstones are some of the best boots going. The slip-on and -off ease qualify them as perhaps the most TSA-friendly pair of footwear next to the reviled flip-flop (seriously, dude, no one wants to see your toe jam while waiting to fly to Chicago). They boast a patented Shock Protection System embedded into polyurethane soles for days-long comfort, while the exterior leathers uppers can stand up to decades of abuse. The new rustic brown 268 lace-ups are no different—well, save that they have laces, which make for a snugger, more custom fit, though they still benefit from the easy-access elastic at the ankle. You won’t summit Everest in these kicks, of course. But you can easily hit a day hike, spend a few days of cold-weather urban adventuring, or find post-ski salvation at your favorite après spot. The supple leather builds up a splendid patina over years of use, and we love the dressed-up aesthetic of the exposed stitching. Know, however, that the poly soles don’’t fully insulate you from the cold, cold ground. If your lifestyle involves standing on snow or the frozen earth for hours at a time, consider Blundstone models with Thinsulate shearling-lined footbeds like the 560 which deliver furnace-like warmth with the same comfort and performance that’s been benefiting us all for over a century.
Flojos, a 30-year-old California-based beach and lifestyle company, is already known for its fashionable, functional lightweight flip flops. Their designs are known for being fashion forward, but well-thought out for comfort. Recently, the company has expanded into flat shoes (think Tom’s) and incredibly comfortable, warm, cozy boots for women. The Heavenly may be the pinnacle of this foray into cold-climate femme footwear. The 11-inch-high suede leather boots boasts a fluffy synthetic fur interior along with a fun stretches of furry insulation on the outside, and after two months of testing in Oregon’s all-mountain conditions (powder, sleet, hail, rain, and low single digit temps) these boots never failed. While the upper is soft, with no rand, zips or laces, the fit is snug, with no heel slippage or foot spin. You’ll pull on these boots and not want to take them off until you’re ready for your summer sandals. For little girls, who want to be just as stylish and warm as their mother (or favorite aunt), we also recommend the Aurora ($55). You’ll find the same relaxed fit as the shorter (seven-inch cuff) boots, along with a medial side zipper to make them easier to pull on and off. Both boots are incredibly light, with soft foam soles that don’t offer a ton of grip or support, but plenty of cushion—especially when you’re carrying your skis to the lodge through a foot of powder (should we be so lucky!).